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Greenshoots? New figures give hope for US market

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US architects have reported an increase in work for the first time in five months as the picture slowly begins to improve across the Atlantic

The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Architectural Billings Index recorded a score of 50.2 in August, where anything above 50 represents an improvement from the previous month.

Billings had fallen for four consecutive months since reaching 50.4 in March, and all hopes of a recovery had been dashed.

Now, after separate data showed a quickening pace of US housing construction in August, the latest figures will be welcomed by architects.

But experts warned that it was too early to talk of a significant improvement.

‘Until the economy is on firmer ground, there aren’t likely to be strong increases in demand for design services,’ said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker. ‘In the meantime, we can expect to see design activity alternate between modest growth and modest decline.’

Growth in billings in August was region and sector specific.

The South and West posted scores of 52.2 and 51.2 respectively, while the Northeast and Midwest saw declining demand at 45.5 and 45.3.

The multi-family residential sector saw the strongest growth, at 53.0, while institutional workloads hit 50.2.

But commercial/industrial and mixed practice demand was down, posting 47.9 and 46.8 respectively.

In a good sign for the future, the new projects inquiry index was 57.2, up from mark of 56.3 the previous month

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